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JIS News

Vice-President of Operations at the National Health Fund (NHF), Cecil White, is hailing the success of the Jamaica Drug For the Elderly Programme (JADEP), through which prescription drugs are provided free of cost to senior citizens over 60 years of age.
Launched in 1996 by the Ministry of Health, the programme aims to improve access to essential drugs for older persons suffering from 10 chronic illnesses. The ailments covered are: hypertension or high blood pressure; diabetes or sugar; glaucoma or pressure in the eyes; cardiac or heart disease; arthritis; asthma; vascular conditions or circulatory problems; psychotic conditions; benign prostate hyperplasia; high cholesterol
The NHF took over the management of JADEP in 2004, and Mr. White says that the programme, which has a membership of some 175,000 persons, has been operating “quite smoothly.”
“When we took over the programme, within a year, we doubled the number of drugs that were available. We have subsequently been making more drugs available to the programme and for the specific drugs that we provide, which is about 80, we are putting out more into the pharmacies. We have also increased the number of pharmacies that are JADEP providers,” he tells JIS News.
Mr. White says that the network of provider pharmacies has also been expanded and that there are currently more than 300 pharmacies, up from 100, where persons can use their JADEP cards to get their prescriptions filled. He says a JADEP provider can be found in every major town across the island.
According to Mr. White, some $20 million is spent on the programme per month. He says that even though the drugs are provided free through the programme, pharmacies are allowed to charge a small fee. “We do allow the pharmacist to charge a $40 per item but that’s left to their discretion, because that is just a token fee, which they keep themselves. A lot of pharmacies don’t bother to charge the $40 because it’s so minimal,” he notes.
He informs that sensitization programmes are also in place to inform the public about the programme. “The NHF has a public information programme. We have an entire department dedicated to public information and we do a lot of public information activities with the media.we do a lot of advertising, we also do a lot of health fairs,” Mr. White says.
He notes that the NHF also holds “community days” on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week, where personnel go into communities and educate residents about the programme and also provide health care tips and information on improving their health and promoting healthy lifestyles.
“We do spend heavily on promotions to try and sensitize persons about the benefits,” he tells JIS News.
He says that the programme “is reviewed from time to time to see whether or not we can add any more value to it, but we have no immediate plans.”
Stating that the programme has been “extremely successful” Mr. White says it has allowed persons of fixed income to access the essential drugs that they need.
Persons can enroll for JADEP membership at any government health centre, at the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) or at the NHF. To register, persons will need to take along a document, which shows proof of age, such as a birth certificate.